So I am three months into Seminary at this point, and it is nothing like I expected. I have been through undergraduate school and graduate school so I expected to jump in and tackle some papers and read a few books (which I’ve definitely accomplished), but I didn’t expect to be challenged in a way that I have never been before. The expectation of Seminary is not that you complete your work and get good grades in order to graduate. There is so much more than that…life and school cannot be separated. I eat, sleep, and read scripture or bible study or spirituality every day. The challenge for me has been to allow it to penetrate my soul to its core to change me, rather than simply checking off my academic lists and look for the next A on a paper.
I have thought more about the Bible and God these past three months than I ever have, and I am an analytical little sucker. I really have to think about why I believe what I do, and when did I begin to believe it, and where did the scriptures come from, and who put the Bible together, and on and on and on. For so many years I have lived by faith and feeling, it’s what I do and what I am good at. I can relate to others through feelings such as empathy, sadness, or joy. My spiritual gift is encouragement… I thrive on feelings. Often, I experience God and the presence of the Holy Spirit through feelings. What is being added now is intellect. I am learning to think about scripture. What is the context and history behind it. Who wrote it and to whom was it written. What was the cultural norms of the time the passage was written. I am beginning to learn how to study the bible. It is amazing.
I am constantly in awe of the God who created all things, who inspired the writing of His word, and who is sovereign over His people. I urge you to try for yourselves, to really dig in to the depths of the Bible. I urge you to pull out a Bible dictionary and look up words, or to pour over a Bible Encyclopedia to more deeply understand the place or time you are reading about in the story. What we often forget is that the Bible is not a work of fiction. It is a true story with actual places, cultures, people and events. It is real. And learning how to study it for yourself is a wonderful way to go deeper with God and experience Him more. What’s also profound is how God reveals Himself through a passage… His word truly is living and breathing, it comes alive and you can feel the presence of God as you study deeper. Human nature and characteristics of the world now is not so different than it was then. Believing Him in the everyday things becomes easier because you have tangible examples that feel contextually similar. My faith is growing and I am changing as the Word is becoming part of me.
For a while this past year I had felt spiritually stagnate. I looked for Bible Studies by my favorite authors to challenge me, I searched for new books to give me a jump-start and light a new fire in me. Little did I know that all I needed was the Bible and some study resources to help me. I am NOT a natural student. Learning doesn’t come super easy to me and you can forget memorization…I’m good if I can remember to pick up my kids from school. For many of us we look at an Encyclopedia or Dictionary and think, really? I am so not doing that for fun. Who has the time for that? But the beauty is that time is expected. It will take time… it’s suppose to take time. I will never know all there is to know or understand all there is to understand… It is truly about the process. We are changed through the process, God speaks to us through the process, and truths are revealed through the process.
There are several studies out there to teach individuals how to study the Bible. Precept classes and both Kay Arthur and Jen Hatmaker (and I’m sure many more!) have written studies designed to help women learn to really dig into God’s word. I cannot tell you how gratifying it has been for me to learn to do this on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Beth Moore or Pricilla Shirer study… I’ve done so many of them and each time I’ve walked away spiritually changed. But there is really nothing like digging in verse by verse and passage by passage on your own. It is liberating and anyone can do it! I am praying for you as you study God’s word, and I hope you will do the same for me!